|Month over Month||0.4%||0.7%||0.4%||0.5%|
|Year over Year||4.3%|
February retail sales were up a greater than anticipated 0.7 percent on the month and 4.3 percent when compared with the same month a year ago. Lower petrol prices and lower Australian dollar continue to boost sales. In addition the RBA's February rate cut also boosted consumer sentiment. The increase marked the third straight monthly gain. January was also revised upward to an increase of 0.5 percent from 0.4 percent.
The biggest contributor to the monthly increase was food retailing (1.2 percent). Household goods (1.8 percent) and other retailing (1.3 percent) also recorded monthly increases. However, in department stores (down 3.2 percent), cafes, restaurants & takeaway food services (down 0.4 percent) and clothing, footwear &personal accessory retailing (down 0.2 percent) declined.
In seasonally adjusted terms there were gains in all states and territories. New South Wales (0.7 percent), Victoria (0.8 percent), South Australia (1.7 percent), Western Australia (0.7 percent), Queensland (0.2 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (1.6 percent), the Northern Territory (2.3 percent.) and Tasmania (0.7 per cent) all gained.
The economy continues to make a difficult transition away from commodities after a decade-long boom that helped fuel house price and wage growth, but is now coming to an end.
Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. The Retail Business Survey covers all employing retail trade businesses who predominantly sell to households.
With consumer spending a large part of the economy, market players continually monitor spending patterns. The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.
Retail sales not only give you a sense of the overall picture, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Especially strong apparel or electronics sales can indicate strength in those industries, for example. These trends from the retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for a company's quarterly or annual report.
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